Skip to comments.Buckley: Bush Not A True Conservative
Posted on 07/22/2006 8:45:38 PM PDT by West Coast Conservative
President Bush ran for office as a "compassionate conservative." And he continues to nurture his conservative base even issuing his first veto this week against embryonic stem cell research.
But lately his foreign policy has come under fire from some conservatives including the father of modern conservatism. CBS Evening News Saturday anchor Thalia Assuras sat down for an exclusive interview with William F. Buckley about his disagreements with President Bush.
William F. Buckley's Stamford, Conn., home is a tranquil place that allows Buckley to think and write, and spend time with his canine companion, Sebastian.
"He's practically always with me," Buckley says.
Buckley finds himself parting ways with President Bush, whom he praises as a decisive leader but admonishes for having strayed from true conservative principles in his foreign policy.
In particular, Buckley views the three-and-a-half-year Iraq War as a failure.
"If you had a European prime minister who experienced what we've experienced it would be expected that he would retire or resign," Buckley says.
Asked if the Bush administration has been distracted by Iraq, Buckley says "I think it has been engulfed by Iraq, by which I mean no other subject interests anybody other than Iraq. ... The continued tumult in Iraq has overwhelmed what perspectives one might otherwise have entertained with respect to, well, other parts of the Middle East with respect to Iran in particular."
Despite evidence that Iran is supplying weapons and expertise to Hezbollah in the conflict with Israel, Buckley rejects neo-conservatives who favor a more interventionist foreign policy than he does, including a pre-emptive air strike against Iran and its nuclear facilities.
"If we find there is a warhead there that is poised, the range of it is tested, then we have no alternative. But pending that, we have to ask ourselves, 'What would the Iranian population do?'"
Buckley does support the administration's approach to the North Korea's nuclear weapons threat, believing that working with Russia, China, Japan and South Korea is the best way to get Pyongyang back to the negotiating table. But that's about where the agreement ends.
"Has Mr. Bush found himself in any different circumstances than any of the other presidents you've known in terms of these crises?" Assuras asks.
"I think Mr. Bush faces a singular problem best defined, I think, as the absence of effective conservative ideology with the result that he ended up being very extravagant in domestic spending, extremely tolerant of excesses by Congress, and in respect of foreign policy, incapable of bringing together such forces as apparently were necessary to conclude the Iraq challenge," Buckley says.
Asked what President Bush's foreign policy legacy will be to his successor, Buckley says "There will be no legacy for Mr. Bush. I don't believe his successor would re-enunciate the words he used in his second inaugural address because they were too ambitious. So therefore I think his legacy is indecipherable"
At 81, Mr. Buckley still continues to contribute a regular column to the National Review, the magazine he started 51 years ago.
Wouldn't America be such a great place if we did things just like Europe?
he's opposed to Capital Punishment.
If Mr. Buckley believes that the war in Iraq is the sum total of the Bush foreign policy, perhaps he should read Robert Kaplan's Imperial Grunts.
(Go Israel, Go! Slap 'Em, Down Hezbullies.)
Buckley is getting fuzzy in his old age. But, that's to be expected.
Me: Where have you been the last two years?
Actually..I have always liked Buckley..found him witty and funny..but looking back on his track record..when he was the "top conservative"..he didn't get a lot accomplished..I don't think he got Nixon or Reagan elected and re-elected..during his prime the dems controlled both chambers for the most part..actually..it was a radio host with little formal education that was credited with ending four decades of dem control of the congress..my two cents..
But I will not lower myself to insult the man as I have seen some other Freepers do.
I believe Pres. Bush has always referred to himself as a "compassionate conservative" and has never claimed to be a "true conservative".
Well stated. Why beat up on the old guy?
I'm sure Bush gives a rat's *ss what Buckley thinks.
A "Compassionate Conservative" is one who incessantly apologizes for proclaimed American ideals and rarely practices them.
Bush largely qualifies in this regard.
Buckley is traveling the Goldwater route: opposes capital punishment, opposes a war on terrorist enablers. When he drops his opposition to abortion, you'll know he's arrived!
...and he likes to smoke dope on his boat in international waters.
I've often wondered if Buckley is a true conservative.
You can hardly blame him for that.
It was a radio host with little formal education that was credited with ending four decades of dem control of the congress..my two cents..
Little formal eductaion? What do you define as "formal".
No, Buckley is true to his principles. And as we all know on the world stage in crisis it's easier said than done in these unconventional times of warfare.
Of course on spending and the Republican Congress penchant for spending along with Bush's signature, ole William is absolutely right. And of that there really isn't any excuse.
Certainly, we've made many mistakes and continue to err in Iraq, but the historians can debate the action. In that regard, I believe Bush will prove right.
Someone should have been fired for the strategy though. I'm not going to point fingers.
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